Sunday, March 16, 2014

Heart Attacks and Loose Teeth

Sydney has become more aware of her peers and their opinions this year.  Because of her lack of impulse control and her inability to determine right from wrong due to the Fetal Alcohol Syndrome (FAS), it can be pretty concerning. I always request that Sydney be exposed to positive peer models and the amount of time spent with children who have behavioral issues be minimized, but in a public school setting this is not always possible. Sydney has been acquiring lots of interesting knowledge this year to say the least. The school year began with her coming home with gravel in her pockets. She believed those ordinary rocks to be valuable.  It seems a boy on the playground told her they were fossils because they had little bits of color in them. When I asked what they were fossils of she explained the boy claimed they were the knee bones of Indians. That was the first week of school so I knew from the start it was going to be a very exciting school year. The same boy has given her a lot of “facts” about dinosaurs, insects, and weather that are not exactly accurate too.  I’m not sure if he believes the stuff he tells her or if he just makes it up as he goes along, silently laughing as my gullible daughter soaks it all up.

The most recent bit of misinformation that Sydney believes to be true is something she learned from a little girl in her math group. Apparently, a person can die of a heart attack if they are exposed to too much math in one sitting. This little girl claims her own dearly departed grandmother suffered “death by multiplication tables”. I’m having a hard time convincing Sydney that it couldn’t happen. 

Another tooth gone
The same sweet little darling classmate lost a tooth last week. Sydney could not be outdone. She came home and insisted she needed to take out a tooth. Unfortunately, there were no loose teeth in Sydney’s mouth. She wanted me to help her get one of her front teeth out and I explained it was a permanent tooth. She said, “I don’t mind. I don’t want that one.” It took two days of prodding and wiggling, but she found a baby tooth with just a little play in it and she got it out. It still had quite a bit of root on it and left a large hole but she was thrilled. She’d lost a tooth just like her friend. The reason she has so few teeth left to lose? This actually wasn’t the first time something like this had happened. In kindergarten and first grade the teachers had charts for the students to add a sticker to if they lost a tooth. Sydney loved the attention that came with putting a sticker on the chart so much she was willing to suffer the pain of pulling teeth that really were not yet ready to be pulled. The alcohol Sydney’s birth mother consumed while pregnant really did a number on Sydney’s threshold of pain.

Sydney has come home with some very entertaining stories lately. With help from her teacher, I’ve been able to unravel a few mysteries. Sometimes Sydney’s stories are like onions and I have to peel back a few layers to really get a good picture. Sydney and a friend were disciplined at school a couple of weeks ago for name calling in the classroom. The two girls had been picking on some of the boys. Sydney’s teacher wrote a note on the weekly calendar that the students bring home each week to let me know that Sydney had been in trouble. I never saw the note. When the teacher looked for my reply the next day, she saw it had been erased! I spoke very seriously with Sydney about it. Sydney claimed she did not erase the note. Her friend and partner in crime did it. I am pretty sure there is a “Leave it to Beaver” episode in this story somewhere.

Because of the name-calling incident, Sydney’s teacher decided the two girls would be better off sitting further apart and she moved their desks. Sydney confided to me right after school that day that the two girls had a plan to right “the injustice” of such a “cruel” punishment. They were going to DEMAND a meeting with the teacher the next morning and insist she allow them to be reunited. Sometimes it is very hard to keep a straight face when Sydney is telling me these things. I find third grade drama extremely funny. I could hardly wait to hear the next installment when I picked her up the following day. I had emailed the teacher to warn her of the coup attempt so she was ready for them. I so wish I could have been a fly on the wall during the girls’ plea for justice. Sydney never did understand why their demands were not met.

I’ve been overjoyed this school year because Sydney is making friends. Last year she was shunned by the girls in her class and bullied by the boys. This year she has had fewer of those sad sagas and is a lot happier. I suppose it could partially be the personalities of the different students in her class this year but I also see her maturing. She still has all the same disabilities but she is gaining some “street smarts” that she really needed. I know public school takes a mom’s innocent little five year old, exposes them to all kinds of words and ideas that they would be better off not knowing. I’m not really glad that Sydney or any of my other kids have ever come home to ask me what some filthy word meant. I’m not really happy that Sydney or any of my other kids have ever come home to tell me a filthy joke that they did not understand the meaning of. Those kinds of things I WISH I could have sheltered all my kids from.  However, by age ten, Sydney should have caught on by now that others do not always have her best interest at heart and that sometimes following other people blindly will get her into trouble. The FAS left her with so little impulse control, she has a difficult time thinking before she acts. If a classmate suggests an activity (even one she has been warned about), she does not (cannot) stop and consider the consequences usually. I believe she is beginning to develop some self-control that we have not seen before. So, I suppose when I count my blessings I should count her peers (even the ones with questionable intentions) as a blessing to us.

Here's a similar post if you want another great post: "Just Another Day in Paradise."

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